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Documents to Show Your Attorney when Planning to Retire

Planning for your retirement is the best way to ensure you live comfortably after you retire. The earlier you get started, and the more extensively you plan, the more time your money will have to grow. The time required in building a successful retirement plan can make the process overwhelming. And, even once retirement is reached, managing your retirement is an ongoing responsibility. However, the process can be made less challenging by developing a practical and attainable savings and investment plan, and staying committed for the long-term.

Working with Your Attorney

To ensure the most secure retirement, it may be in your best interests to consult with a retirement planning attorney. A retirement planning attorney can help you understand how to take best advantage of your retirement funds and assets. In planning your retirement, your attorney can also help you to take advantage of beneficial tax rules. In doing so, you'll need to gather many documents and provide copies to your attorney. While reviewing your documents, you and your attorney can work together as partners to plan your retirement in a manner that protects you and your family's immediate and long-term interests. The following is a non-exhaustive set of documents your attorney may request.

Tax Documents and Account Statements

To adequately estimate your future Social Security benefits, it's important to review your individual and business income tax returns. Along with other proof of current income, these documents can be used to determine what percentage of your income needs saving in order to meet your retirement goal.

Bank statements, certificates of deposit, and other account statements can be used to determine what immediate funds are available for you and your family. You and your attorney can decide whether to consolidate accounts or potentially move your accounts to best serve you.

____ Individual income tax returns for past three to five years (federal, state, and local)
____ Business income tax returns for past three to five years (federal, state, and local)
____ Proof of your current income
____ Proof or spouse's current income
____ Prenuptial agreement
____ Bank statements
____ Certificates of Deposit

Retirement Accounts, Stock Portfolios, and Real Property

Whether you have an employer-sponsored defined benefit pension, 401(k), IRA, or other retirement account, you and your attorney can discuss and plan how to best utilize your retirement accounts and consider tax implications so that you may be covered for the future. You and your attorney should also review your investment portfolio to determine whether the level of risk is appropriate for retirement planning. You should also look at your mortgages and appraisals and consider whether selling, downsizing, or refinancing is appropriate for your retirement goal.

____ Pension statements
____ Retirement account statements
____ Social security estimate of benefits
____ Stock portfolios
____ Stock options
____ Mortgages
____ Loan documents
____ Utility bills
____ Other bills (e.g., children's college tuition, health and dental insurance premiums, unreimbursed medical bills, etc.)

Estate Planning, Insurance Policies, and Personal Property

While planning your retirement you can also revisit your estate plan. You and your attorney can review your will and any powers of attorney and advance health care directives. It's a good idea to ensure that your estate plan follows your retirement goal. You may also wish to review your various insurance policies, whether life, health, or homeowner. While many retirees drop their life insurance policies, you may wish to hold onto your policy for posterity or estate purposes.

Finally, it's a good idea to review a list of your personal property, including home furnishings, jewelry, artwork, and office equipment. You and your attorney can determine what items of personal property, if any, should be liquidated as part of your retirement plan.

____ Wills
____ Living Wills
____ Powers of Attorney
____ Durable Powers of Attorney
____ Advance Health Care Directives
____ Life insurance policies
____ Health insurance policies
____ Homeowner's insurance policies
____ Automobile insurance policies
____ Personal property appraisals
____ List of personal property, including home furnishings, jewelry, artwork, computers, home office equipment, clothing and furs, etc.
____ List of property owned by each spouse prior to marriage
____ List of property acquired by each spouse individually by gift or inheritance during the marriage
____ List of contents of safety deposit boxes

Other Considerations

When consulting with your attorney in planning for your retirement, the more information you can provide and the more clearly you present your goal, the less challenging the process will be. Visit FindLaw's Retirement Planning section for additional resources and browse for Social Security and retirement attorneys in your area.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified social security lawyer to assist in your
retirement benefits or planning.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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